Sunday, March 8, 2009

The name Ed Hardy probably does not mean much to us, unless you have stepped into high end boutique shops.

Don Ed Hardy used to be a tattooist (or still is), but in these days, he has whored out his name and artistic integrity to hawk women hand bags and other fashion garbs.

The phrase printed on this Ed Hardy handbag was intended to represent "die before dishonor", however it is gibberish in Japanese. This phrase is not even close in Chinese. It is read as "die first, insult (later)".

The printed phrase sounded more familiar to the practice of 鞭尸, a punishment where buried body is unearthed and whipped in front of his/her surviving family members, than "die before dishonor". Plus, Chinese already have an idiom, 寧死不屈.

This gets better after I received this email:

from: Rachel S.

date: Sun, Mar 1, 2009 at 6:06 PM
subject: Tattoos, do they really mean this?

Hi, a guy I went to high school posted this picture of his new tattoo on Facebook and I was wondering if they really mean what he claims them to say.

The tattoo he says it reads, "Death before dishonor."

Someone actually copied the phrase from Ed Hardy's pseudo-Japanese handbag and tattooed on himself.


  1. Another victim of one-to-one translation.

  2. Not to mention the ugly handwriting!

    Another interpretation might be 死先 as in "the destination/location to which you die" (ie 送り先, though such a phrase doesn't normally exist), which would maybe make the phrase mean something along the lines of "the dishonor you receive at wherever you end up going when you die"

    makes a lot of sense, right? haha!

  3. Oh, please tell us the Facebook name, Rachel.

  4. I would interpret it as an insult or humiliation you receive before you die.

  5. I wonder why you always think of Japanese first. I've noticed this in several posts.

    This seems like it was intended to be Chinese, not Japanese. Of course it is still wrong but I would say pseudo-Chinese handbag.

  6. yes please. Lol this site makes me laugh almost as much as it makes me cringe... keep up the good work!

  7. @Anna,

    If you read Don Ed Hardy's bio, then you would know he is recognized for incorporating Japanese tattoo aesthetic and technique into his work.

    Therefore, interpreting his work to be read from Japanese perspective would come first.

  8. @Anna,

    You should have read Ed Hardy's bio, Tian even posted a link at the beginning of this entry.

    Here is a note for you:

    do some work of your own before posting silly comments.

  9. Thanks Tian for that explanation. I didn't mean it as an attack or anything. It was a genuine question. I didn't read the Ed Hardy bio so I didn't know he claimed using Japanese as a inspiration.

  10. I googled the phrase and came across this blog post. Needless to say, the Japanese guy who posted this was more confused/amused than anything else....

  11. How often do you receive inquiries about something that is written correctly and makes sense? Ever?

    just curious.

  12. @Ellen,

    I have not kept any statistical data, however I would estimate less than 10% at best. Even with that number, mostly are ridiculous single character without any contextual reference.

  13. I just want to point out the hilarious irony of wanting to say "death before dishonor" -- by inking your body with a huge, very dishonorable tattoo.

  14. Actually, this tattoo is to be understood as a metaphor meaning: "Ridicule before death."